Media sales staffs are used to dealing with numbers that track their productivity, such as budgets, pipelines and close ratios. Journalists tend to abhor the idea.
Tracking the productivity of online journalists in a complex, well-managed environment is unavoidable. It?s by tracking the number of articles they manage and the page views they generate that managers can determine if they should hire more staff.
Imagine a site with a content staff of 10 that generates 10 million page views a month or a million PVs per staffer. Let?s assume about 1,000 stories a week ? mostly from the print side but some purely online ? automatically flow onto the site, with the biggest spike on Sundays. Among many duties, the staff produces original content, develops slide shows and is responsible for making sure all stories get on the site, flow into the proper sections, receive additional packaging, etc.
A new annual budget comes along with a 25 percent increase in revenue. Can ad rates go up 25 percent? Unlikely in this environment, but a rate increase can solve part of it. Can 25 percent more ad positions be created? Unlikely again, for most sites already have fleshed out their ad space. Other ideas are possible, but the obvious one is a major boost in page views, which will increase ad inventory at the same rate.
Let?s settle on a 20 percent increase in page views. You probably can?t make your content staff work 20 percent harder or put in six days a week. If you are convinced that they are fully productive, then the rational choice is a 20 percent increase in staff or two more full-time people in order to achieve the new PV target.
Those two new hires won?t join the others in checking the story flow. They must be focused on creating new content, sections and applications that will be major factors in boosting the site that extra 20 percent.
Tracking content staff productivity and developing well-defined job descriptions linked to those goals will go far in building a balanced and fairly managed online operation.